Predicting Which Coaches Will Be Fired Before the 2014-15 NHL Season
Not only is the NHL a "Win Now" business, it is also a "Win in the Playoffs" business.
If a coach fails at either one of these aspects, the chances are not good that he will find a way to retain his job.
With the season still in its first month, several coaches could be in quite a bit of trouble before the puck drops on the 2014-15 season. Several of these coaches could seal their fate with poor regular seasons, but others may not see disaster coming until they fail in the playoffs.
Here's a look at the coaches who could be fired before the start of the 2014-15 season.
Peter DeBoer, New Jersey Devils
Best Finish: 2011-12; Reached Stanley Cup Final
2013-14 start: 1-5-4
Why He'll Be Fired: When the overachieving New Jersey Devils made the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, Peter DeBoer had assistant coaches Adam Oates and Larry Robinson helping him. Neither of those Hall of Famers are still with the Devils, and that hurts DeBoer badly. It's much more difficult for DeBoer to get his message across to his players.
That's just part of the problem. The Devils have lost significant talent since their Stanley Cup run, including Zach Parise, David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk. It's not all DeBoer's fault, but it's going to be hard for general manager Lou Lamoriello to justify bringing his coach back or even letting him finish the 2013-14 season because the Devils have become non-competitive.
DeBoer understands the game and implements proper strategic matchups, but he has little ability to inspire his players.
Ron Rolston, Buffalo Sabres
Best Finish: 2013; 15-11-5; failed to make playoffs after taking over from Lindy Ruff
2013-14 start: 1-9-1
Why He'll Be Fired: The Sabres have a dearth of talent, and it looked like they would have to play stellar hockey just to have a shot at competing for a playoff spot this year.
Instead of a quick start with a hustling team, the Sabres nearly always fall behind in the first period and they have neither the talent nor the drive to keep up with the opposition. It seems quite likely that the Sabres will go into a full rebuilding mode this season and move goalie Ryan Miller and forward Thomas Vanek.
Ron Rolston got the team to hustle and play hard after he was named interim coach last year, but he appears to be in over his head this year. Rolston has been criticized for using enforcer John Scott when things don't go well. Scott received a match penalty Oct. 23 when he elbowed Loui Eriksson of the Boston Bruins in the head. Mike Milbury of NBC Sports Network criticized Rolston and said he has no business coaching in the NHL.
Mike Yeo, Minnesota Wild
Best Finish: 2013; Made Western Conference playoffs; lost in first round to the Chicago Blackhawks.
2013-14 start: 5-3-3
Why He'll Be Fired: The weight of heavy expectations will crush Mike Yeo. The Wild should have a decent regular season, but it's difficult to see them getting past the first round. It would be shocking if they were successful in the conference semifinal round.
However, when the Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in 2012 as free agents, the stakes went up for the Wild. No longer could this team hustle and fight just to make the playoffs. They needed to become a much stronger team and become a serious contender.
Yeo's team got to the playoffs last year but went out meekly in five games. That won't get it done this year. If the Wild doesn't show some significant improvement and become one of the big dogs in in the Western Conference, expect Minnesota to have a new head coach in 2014-15.
Claude Noel, Winnipeg Jets
Best Finish: 2011-12; 37-35-10, failed to make Eastern Conference playoffs
2013-14 start: 4-5-2
Why He'll Be Fired: They have a voracious appetite for NHL success in Winnipeg. While the fans will remain eternally grateful for the return of the league to their city, the fans want a team that is capable of earning a spot in the playoffs and winning at least one round.
Claude Noel has shown he can put a competitive team on the ice, but he may not be able to do much more than that. His first two seasons were remarkably similar as the Jets proved to be feisty and plucky, but they could not play consistently.
Now they have moved to the Western Conference, and there's more than a little impatience with the team. Winnipeg fans see players like Evander Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler and think they should be a playoff team. If they don't make it, Noel will be dismissed at the end of the season.
Bruce Boudreau, Anaheim Ducks
Best Finish: 2012-13, 30-12-6; first in Pacific Division; lost in first round of playoffs.
2013-14 start: 7-3-0
Why He'll Be Fired: Bruce Boudreau has been everything the Anaheim Ducks wanted when they hired him during the 2011-12 season. The Ducks had a sensational regular season last year and pushed the Presidents Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks to the limit before finishing as the second seed in the Western Conference.
And what did the Ducks do with that second seed? They lost a first-round playoff matchup with the Detroit Red Wings, a team that didn't earn the seventh seed in the playoffs until the final week of the season.
Failing in the playoffs has been Boudreau's coaching signature. During his previous five years with the Washington Capitals, Boudreau's team lost three first-round series and two more conference semifinal series. He has never had success coaching in the postseason, and it's not likely to change this season.
A frustrated general manager Bob Murray will bid adieu to Boudreau after the Ducks lose another first-round playoff series.
Bob Hartley, Calgary Flames
Best Finish: 2012-13; 37-35-1019-25-4, failed to make Western Conference playoffs
2013-14 start: 4-4-2
Why He'll Be Fired: Bob Hartley was hired by Jay Feaster after the 2011-12 season to take over behind the bench of a team that was clearly in a transition. Once the Flames traded Jarome Iginla midway through the 2013 lockout-shortened season, it was clear that the Flames were fully involved in the rebuilding process.
Feaster now has company in the Flames' front office. Brian Burke is currently sharing that cramped room, and it's difficult to see this team going much further with two bosses.
Eventually, Burke will take over and the Flames will become his team. He will want to hire his own coach and that means that Hartley will almost certainly find himself on the outside unless the Flames put together a miraculous season.
That's not likely. Hartley may do a decent job, but the blustery Burke will eventually bring in a new coach.
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